You've just brought a new puppy into your home, and you have a ton of questions about providing for her basic needs of food, water and warmth. But grooming is also an important aspect of puppy ownership and that includes bathing. Your pup's first few baths will likely not be a pleasant experience, but with a little practice and a few tips, bath time can be fun time for both you and your pup.
Your little friend is going to be nervous around new things and experiences. Work with her slowly to get her used to sitting or standing in a tub. Give her a treat and lots of encouragement. After a few sessions, she should be comfortable enough for you to add a few inches of water without causing panic. Always work slowly and speak calmly but firmly.
When to Start
Puppies start learning behaviors at a young age, so it's important to start getting her accustomed to the bathing routine early. Don't bathe a puppy younger than 6 weeks. Her mother has been cleaning her, and you don't want to chill a young puppy. Most professionals recommend 10 to 12 weeks as the ideal age to start.
How often you wash your dog depends on several factors, including your dog's skin type and hair coat, behavior and environment. The easy answer is, whenever she needs it. A Chihuahua who spends most of his time on your lap will likely need fewer baths than a golden retriever puppy who loves romping with her brother through the backyard flower beds. Frequency may also be affected by how tolerant family members are of dog dander and odors. In the past, it was thought that bathing too often would dry out a dog's skin, but experts now believe that's not true. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests you bathe your puppy about every three months. Your veterinarian can give specific recommendations for your particular puppy.
You'll have your hands full of squirmy puppy once you start the bath or shower so assemble everything you'll need beforehand. A soft washcloth for washing around the face, a bath towel, cotton balls for placing in your dog's ears to keep them dry and dog shampoo -- not yours. Human shampoo can be harsh on your buddy's skin. Don't forget plenty of her favorite treats.
Where's the Tub?
Typically, the easiest place to bathe your furry friend is outside, especially if your dog is large. A large tub or hard plastic kid's swimming pool will work well. Add a garden hose and splash away without creating a wet mess. For a very small dog, you can use a wash basin or kitchen sink and dish sprayer to wash and rinse. A bathtub or shower will also work but might be more intimidating to a nervous puppy. Make sure you put a mat down on the tub or shower floor to prevent slipping and take precautions to avoid hair clogs in your drain. Then you simply wet your pup down, shampoo her coat, rinse well, then rinse again to make sure all the soap is out. Dry off your little gal as well as possible, then add treats for a job well done.